We are interested in the role that immune cells found in the brain, called microglia, play in the development of depression. To understand the biological roots of psychiatric disorders, investigators generally look to neurons and their molecular interactions. But a recent genome-wide study revealed that defects in genes involved in regulating immunity are also associated with depressive disorders. Using an array of methods in cell and molecular genetics, immunology, and neurobiology, our lab will determine whether mutations that alter gene activity in microglia lead to a sustained inflammatory response, whether such changes take place in mouse models of depression, and whether they differentially affect males and females. As a postdoc, I discovered that certain molecules, acting through a microglial estrogen receptor, can suppress this inflammation; if these molecules also relieve depression, they could lead to novel strategies for elevating mood.